I rolled down the window and beckoned the woman with the cardboard sign over to our van. "Have a nice day" I said as I smiled and handed her a $20 bill. She looked down, then up, then down again and started to cry. "I want you to know this is for my children - it helps them - I spend it on them - thank you so much. "
I rolled up the window and Addison inquired why she was so sad and how come we gave her a piece of paper. "Honey, she's having a really hard time right now but Heavenly Father loves her and wants us to help her know that" I started to explain. Fighting back tears of my own, we talked about how we try to help people in need because we are all God's children and He loves us all so much. "Mommy, what's her name?" Addison asked.
I rolled down the window again and caught the woman's attention. "My daughter wants to know your name" I called. I had to ask twice because the honking of the car behind me to signal the light was green drowned out my voice. "My name's Miranda" she replied.
I rolled up my window, stepped on the gas, and we waved at each other. Tears on both mother's faces. "Honey, her name is Miranda."
The holidays are fast approaching and my inner wish to help my children be charitable is at the forefront of my thoughts. I want to raise giving, helpful, compassionate, non-judgmental children. I want them to know they are daughters or God and everyone they encounter is a son or daughter just the same. Regardless of dress, life situation, or circumstances - Heavenly Father loves us all and wishes the best for us. Being a parent, even for just a short while, helps me realize more and more just how deep His love for us must be.
I'm an avid internet reader and was recently reading a blog post about giving to strangers. There is controversy over whether this is a good idea - are we giving drug money - does it really help - if I donate to my church then they help those who really need it absolving me from my duty - etc. That post was just another piece that has changed me. The authors' mindset everyday is something to the affect of, "Father, I am your servant, and I will help whichever of your children you place in my path, unless you direct me otherwise". My mindset has always been - as directed, I will help those in my path.
Before the blog post I never would have handed out $20. We occasionally pay the tab of the car behind us in the drive through (if you've never done it you should give it a go - it gives you a wonderful and sneaky feeling that lasts) and frequently we give food to those begging at freeway exits (because my diaper bag always has snacks in it). But we rarely give money. Partially, because we aren't regularly cash carrying people and partially because I have always judged the people on the side of the road and don't want to feed a substance habit.
I don't usually help unless directed otherwise - I typically wait for a big impression to help. What a subtle and substantial difference.
Am I actively doing all I can to bless every son and daughter of God that is in my path without judgment and with complete compassion?
My heart has been being softened over the past several months towards this topic. Oliver was out of work for most of the summer and early fall. We were the recipients of so much charity. Big, small, monetary, tangible, time - Love. We weren't actively asking for the help or soliciting the assistance but we were blessed anyway. I wasn't begging on the street corner or sleeping outside - but I'm sure I would if my children needed it. The Lord placed so many people in our path - that without judgment - served our family. We were not forgotten by our Father, we were loved and showered upon in our time of need.
You know what? During that time I was still talking on my iPhone, driving my 2013 Honda van, and for a period of our summer we were eating out every single day. But without judgment people helped us.
Oliver was laid off, by phone, on day 3 of a month-long planned vacation. We quickly made the rounds to see family and then returned to Utah to start finding work. We were heart broken. We missed my aunt's wedding and a family reunion - fun time together and a trip to see family in California. We were so sad to be driving home and were worried about what lay ahead.
We returned home to find that our home had been flooding for a long duration of the 11 days we were gone. Part of the consequence was that we lost our kitchen and so our insurance paid for our daily restaurant habit for more than 6 weeks. Not many people knew the financial arrangement of our eating out and could easily be standing on the sidelines wondering why we were eating out when we had no income coming in. But they didn't judge - at least not to our faces - they just loved and helped us. Maybe it was a blessing to destroy our house while Oliver was out of work because it saved us a lot of our grocery money!
There were plenty of things we went without because the tricky part of unemployment is not knowing how long it will last. If we had known that Oliver would be back to work by the end of September then Addison, Oliver, and Claire wouldn't have celebrated birthdays where they were gifted things that we already had - or in Oliver's case - got nothing. We wouldn't have forgone celebrating our anniversary and Addison could have had yellow cheese sticks from Costco. (The only thing she wanted when daddy got a job was to buy more yellow cheese sticks). But there were still many reasons for people to look in and judge - but that wasn't our experience.
So, we're slowly changing our mindsets and trying to give, serve, and help everyone in our path unless we are directed otherwise. Hindsight is strong and Satan starts whispering, "$20! really! cash!" but the Lord was in the moment, the Spirit was in our hearts, and maybe Addison will grow up and remember Miranda and how much she is loved. And maybe we will have a more charitable and non-judgmental holiday season then we would have otherwise.
Thank you Miranda for asking for help today - you helped change my heart.